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City council not to discuss Iraq

13 June 2007 - Progressive parties wanted to discuss the desirability of an investigation into the Dutch involvement in the Iraq war this afternoon, but the Social-Democrats decided to drop the idea after all.

At the initiative of Laurens Ivens (SP) and with support from the PvdA and GroenLinks, the issue was put at the agenda of this afternoon’s city council meeting. Ivens says that many people in Amsterdam are concerned that the government may not have been honest about the issue. This concern would harm social cohesion.

The SP has collected about 20,000 signatures from Amsterdammers asking for an investigation. GroenLinks is also collecting signatures.

The Senate will decide in early July whether there should be an investigation. The progressive parties wanted to communicate to the Senate that Amsterdam thinks that the reasons for the Netherlands to become involved in the war should be brought into the open.

On second thought, the local PvdA decided to drop the idea after all, claiming that it is primarily a national issue. At the national level, the party has reluctantly accepted a coalition agreement that says there will be no investigation. Formally, the Senate is not bound by this agreement.

The issue has some resemblances to the issue of gay marriage. The coalition agreement protects civil servants who refuse to marry gay couples on religious grounds. However, the PvdA engaged in a strategy of having city councils vote against hiring civil servants who have objections to gay marriage.

According to the PvdA, the idea to discuss Iraq was not part of a similar strategy of neutralising controversial elements of the coalition agreement through local initiatives.

Photo: SP collects signatures at the Dappermarkt


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